Monday, March 3, 2014

Blue Russian Inspiration: A Collection of Fur and Beards

When I knew I was going to be stitching the Blue Russian, I started collecting links to fur and Santa beards I liked.  I thought you might find them inspiring, too.   Stephanie has done some wonderful Russian Santas from Heartstrings, which are distributed by Artists Collection.

Stephanie has also posted great Santa photos from a variety of designers.  Some of these she has stitched, some are from her SWANs group and some are from her local shops.  They really illustrate the diversity of fur and beards we can create.

I love Suzanne's polar bear stocking.  I think he might have been stitched using Fuzzy Stuff from Rainbow Gallery.

Summer has done some wonderful Santa ornaments, working from her stash threads.

Becki's Melissa Shirley Santa has a lovely beard and gorgeous fur trim.  The fur trim is Colonial knots in a variety of threads.

Finally, wait'll you see Anne's traditional Medici beard!

I also referred to my copy of Beards I Have Known, which shows off the various beards Diana Bosworth has stitched for The French Knot in Texas.

It's a great little book but if you are not willing to spend money on a book you will only use occasionally, you can browse the photos of Diana's Peteis on the French Knot website.  I believe all the stitch guides for these creations are still available from the French Knot.

Hope you found all this as inspirational as I did!

Written by Jane/Chilly Hollow
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© Copyright March 2, 2014 Jane M. Wood. All rights reserved.

Marsha Is Obsessed (In a Good Way)

Want to see some unusual finished Elizabeth Bradley kits?  Then click right here and enjoy what Marsha did!

Many thanks to Elizabeth Bradley for mentioning these on Facebook.

Written by Jane/Chilly Hollow
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© Copyright February 26, 2014 Jane M. Wood. All rights reserved.

Blue Russian: Creating Ermine Out of Thin Air

The last step in bringing my Northern Light Santa to life is to give him ermine trim on his cloak.   From the first I know what I wanted the collar and cloak edging fur trim to look like.  I wanted something that looked like this--

That immediately ruled out making the cloak trim from French knots or their larger scale brother-Colonial knots.  Not that your Russian Santa can't have wonderful fur made this way--check out THIS Melissa Shirley beauty with Colonial knot fur trim made from a variety of threads, stitched by Becki Gebhardt for a class at Enriched Stitch.  Gorgeous!

It's just not what I want. It doesn't look like my Neiman Marcus example.  How about turkey work or some of its variants?  Santa's gray fur hat in the Brenda Stofft Santa here is turkey work in two threads. It's a little too choppy and thick, not floating.

Maybe a smoother turkey work, like Suzanne's Santa?

No, too dense.  It will take over the piece.  But switching threads to Caron's Snow would work.  Like the ball on Santa's stocking cap from the magic fingers of Libby Sturdy--

No, not turkey work.  I can hear the gasps of fear all the way in the middle of nowhere!  I can't send Blog readers into cardiac arrest.  Turkey work is not quite right, anyway.  And Caron's Snow is too thick a thread for this delicate area.

There is Velvet stitch (second Santa from top in the link below).  No, this is very pretty but a bit too much for such a small area as on my Blue Russian.  His ermine collar is 10-12 threads wide at the widest point.  It looks more like what I want, however.

I could use satin stitch with a sparkly thread like Arctic Rays like Vicky did.

To copy what she did I would need two colors, white and gray.  Arctic Rays does have two grays as well as white, plus folks whose shops don't carry Arctic Rays might be able to pick up ThreadworX's Legacy Collection thread instead (second link).

But then I had to face the question, what will either of these threads look like next to the Wisper and Petite Silk Lame Braid I have used for Santa's wrist trim, beard and eyebrows?  I did have some white Legacy Collection in my stash so I laid it on my canvas next to Santa's head. It looked ok but the whites were slightly different and the fuzzy synthetic thread was a little too over powering.  Sigh.  Back to the drawing board.

I still didn't have the right stitch.  How about rya stitch, another turkey work variation? That'll work but I am not one hundred percent pleased with it.  After all, folks are going to have to learn a new stitch and you still have the problem of knowing what thread to use that won't overwhelm and hide Santa's face and that will look good with the threads already chosen.

The more I thought about this, the more I decided to stick with the same threads I've already been using--a white and gray Wisper combined with the glow-in-the-dark Petite Silk Lame Braid.  But what stitch?  It needs to be easy but elegant and maybe something with a twist....

Stay tuned until tomorrow to see how I figured this out!  I am going to postpone Part Two of Ermine Trim until next Monday due to the snowfall. I will be too busy today and tomorrow to write the follow up article, so let's put it off a week.  Thanks!

Questions? Email me at chillyhollow @ and I'll get back to you by the next day.
Written by Jane/Chilly Hollow
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© Copyright 2014 Jane M. Wood. All rights reserved.